An Interview with Warren Central and IU Grad/Sub 4:00 Minute Miler, De’Sean Turner
De’Sean Turner graduated from Warren Central High School in 2007 as one of the State’s most versatile and decorated all-time track and field athletes. De’Sean was the 1600 meter State Champion in 2007 in 4:08.34, an individual Cross Country State Champion in 2006, 2xtime Cross Country Team Champion in 2005 and 2006, 2nd in the 1600 to future IU teammate Andy Weatherford in 2006, 2nd in the 800 in 2007 to future IU teammate Daniel Stockberger, 2nd in Cross Country in 2005, a member of the Warren Central 2nd place 2006 4×800 team, 3rd place in the 2004 Cross Country State Meet, 6th in the 1600 as a Sophomore in 2004 and 9th in the 3200 that same year, as well as 22nd as Freshman at the 2003 Cross Country State Meet.
Turner went on to compete for Indiana University from the years 2007-2012, improving upon his success on the next level. De’sean’s career thus far has been highlighted by his recent Sub 4:00 minute mile (3:59.81) at Notre Dame on 3/2/2012. Other career highlights include his participation on the 2012 IU Distance Medley Relay Team which finished 2nd at the NCAA Indoor Championships, as well as finishing 6th in the 3000 meter steeplechase at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships. De’Sean just last week qualified for another NCAA Championship in the Steeplechase and goes in as one of the favorites to finish in the top 5. Additionally, De’Sean was a member of the 2010 and 2011 IU Cross Country teams which claimed back to back 7th place finishes at the NCAA Championships
De’Sean was kind enough to allow us here at Indiana Runner send him some questions regarding his collegiate career via email and give us some feedback. We hope you enjoy learning a little about one of Indiana’s best athletes and hopefully you will root him on into the 2012 Olympic Trials just like we will!
5,000 Meters: 14:08.16
3,000 Meter Steeplechase: 8:36.61
Looking back, what was the highlight of your High School career competing at Warren Central, and what does Indiana XC and Track and Field mean to you?
Looking back on my high school career there are two huge highlights that stand out to me. Number 1 would be leading my teammates to Warren Central’s first ever cross country team title my junior season. I had been lucky enough to have success individually previous to this title run so it was great being able to see my teammates experience it with me. I always enjoyed everyone else’s accomplishments, many times more so than my own. The second highlight that stands out to me would be my senior year mile title in track. I had loved being a part of so many exciting and close races, but consistently coming up short of my goal drove me a little more to get that coveted Indiana mile championship. I also knew we needed a lot of points with, my fellow Warren Central and IU teammate, Devin Pipkin coming through the finish line slowly in the 100 due to a hamstring injury. It felt great to show up for my team when we needed it. As a whole my experience as an IHSAA athlete and being a part of the great athletes the state has, and still continues to produce is a very special feeling. Indiana has become a premier state in the distance world and it’s amazing to watch these current athletes excel and know me and many of my teammates at IU were once in their shoes.
I know it’s been a while, but can you tell us why you made the choice (what turned out to be a wise one at that) to continue your track and field career at Indiana University after finishing a wildly successful high school career at Warren Central?
Well, I originally chose to go to IU while a different coaching staff was still in place. I was in a very interesting situation. I chose to run for Robert Chapman after visiting with many of Indiana’s best athletes and I think at that point I believe it was kind of mutually understood that we had a great opportunity on our hands. Many other recruits noticed this and joined us. We all chose to head to IU, many of us as a group, and then things were in place. The coaching staff was replaced after that and for me I wanted to go to IU because it was relatively close to home but more so because of it’s history. Many great runners had come out of Indiana University under many coaches, including Chapman, so I was sold. When Helmer was hired the history didn’t change and his personal history was extremely impressive. I realized I probably could have just backed out and went to another school but I spoke with many of the other recruits and we were not that upset that a talented and successful coach had become the replacement. I don’t think any one of us would ever say we regretted staying to this day.
What were your goals coming out of high school? What have you achieved and what are you still striving to accomplish?
My goals coming out of high school were most likely the same as any high school prospect: have success in track and field. I have met many of my goals but have not reached some as well. I have become a big ten individual and team champion and a multiple time All- American selection. Those were both great experiences, but NCAA titles and trophies are obviously things that are goals for my teammates and I. We feel we have as good a shot as any team to get a trophy in coming weeks and that is what we are focused on.
Coming into this season, you had two huge monkey’s on your back; those being the 4:00 barrier and the 1:50 barrier for 800 meters. You had come close on multiple occasions to hitting both marks in previous seasons. Can you tell us a little about what it was like to achieve both those landmarks early this season?
Coming into the season I had run 4:00 once and 1:50 many times. I ended up running 4:00 again this season, this time even closer to being under, so it was very frustrating to say the least. I just listened to what my coach was telling me to do and started paying particular attention to workouts at 4:00 pace and tried to become as comfortable as possible running at that speed. Eventually I had a nicely paced race at the Meyo Invitational and broke 1:50 for the first time. It felt great and I let that success and confidence carry me into rest of the season. Helmer gave me the option of running the mile on “last chance” weekend to try and break four and make it into the national meet so I seized the opportunity. The race was interesting because I was in dead last for the first half. Helmer had told me not to go out any faster than 59 point so I found my way to the back pretty early. I was a bit worried early on but as the race went on I found my way closer and closer to the front pack because they had slowed the pace and I had only maintained. As this was happening people were falling off the early quick pace and I slowly made my way through them. With 400 to go I gave one final push to the back of the front pack and just sat with them. I had noticed the clock and I knew there was a chance to finally go under. I knew I had to leave myself a kick, which I had not done efficiently in my previous attempts, so I continued to sit behind the pack. With about 80 meters to go I began to lift a bit more and drive all the way through the line. When they finally posted my time I immediately felt like I had lifted so much pressure I was putting on myself. I was excited to get back to our team area and I was glad that Coach McNulty was able to announce the race and be apart of it. He always gives the Hoosiers a little more love than everyone else.
What does it mean to you to be on the short list of just 6 Indiana natives to ever break 4 minutes?
Being on the Indiana sub 4 list with the guys that were there before me is very special. It is a great group to be apart of and it is also pretty cool that two of us were teammates for 4 years at the same college. Hopefully more of my current teammates and future Hoosiers will add to this list of athletes.
Every career has ups and downs. Can you tell us a little about what gets you out the door every day and where you hope your motivation will eventually take you?
It doesn’t take much for me to continue striving for more in track and field. I have great coaches, great teammates, great facilities and resources, and an Indiana athletics fan base that is very supportive. I have people tell me all the time that they are proud of what we’ve all done at Indiana and so it’s not hard to want to enjoy and use the time I have left here. It is hard to stay confident after some races that aren’t what you expected but it is easy to realize that not everything goes your way and the only thing you can do to try and fix it is get back out there and keep trying. I hope my motivation carries me to continued success at the national level and further on.
This is your last season as a Hoosier. What are your plans post-collegiately?
After college, my current plans are to continue competing for as long I can improve as a distance runner. I am hoping to train in Bloomington with others and keep racing. I just want to keep getting better and hope that will allow things to take care of themselves. There is a possibility of me continuing my education, but I won’t commit to that until I am completely sure of what I would want to concentrate on. I am very interested in coaching and teaching athletes what I have been taught at some point and I would like to get into that whenever I may have the opportunity.
Do you have any other advice for Indiana high school athletes looking to improve and set their goals high as they attempt to compete on the collegiate level?
Some advice that I would give high school athletes looking to thrive in high school track and field would be to take advantage of the opportunities you are given and learn to stay calm and relaxed before and during competition. There is no greater stage in track and field than a championship race. You have to take advantage of those races. In high school I never took a race lightly. I was always ready to race and compete. You have to put yourself in position to be successful or it is much harder to achieve that success. You never know what can happen if you test yourself in practice or competition. Also, staying relaxed while preparing for a race and while racing are both important. You cant psyche yourself out of a race before it even starts. This will make it a lot easier to feel relaxed while racing. Although it may be hard, don’t put a bunch of pressure on yourself in big races. Just go out there and show everyone the product of all your hard work. Also, one of the most important things I did was listen to my coaches, so listen to your coaches.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with Indiana Runner! We wish you the best in your future. We will continue to support you as one of the best athletes to come out of our great state!
Thanks for this opportunity. Good luck to all competitors this weekend!